Even Jerry Bruckheimer isn’t immune to the Disney turnaround blitzkrieg. While he’s off in Hawaii shooting Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Bruckheimer just had a high-profile WWII project killed by Rich Ross because it didn’t fit the studio’s family-friendly franchise mandate. Though Bruckheimer put two years of work into it, Disney has jettisoned an adaptation of the Steven Pressfield historical novel Killing Rommel. Several drafts were written by Randall Wallace and Pressfield, best known for writing Gates of Fire and The Legend of Bagger Vance. Wallace, of course, wrote the WWII film Pearl Harbor for Disney and Bruckheimer and he also scripted the period war films Braveheart and We Were Soldiers. Wallace also directed the upcoming Disney film Secretariat, which the studio releases on October 8. Killing Rommel is the daring attempt by a British battalion to capture German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, at a time when his Panzer tanks were overrunning the North African desert and driving Winston Churchill crazy. The film’s tone is Mad Max meets The Dirty Dozen, as the the British Long Range Desert Group tricked out their formerly sluggish armored vehicles to outmaneuver the deadly German tanks. There is also a little bit of a Valkyrie epilogue: Rommel wasn’t killed by the Brits, but rather took poison after being accused of complicity in a July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler. Disney’s Ross hasn’t been shy about dropping projects that don’t fit the studio mold–casualties include 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Wild Hogs sequel–but this is the first one I’ve heard of for Bruckheimer. The question is whether Bruckheimer takes it elsewhere, since he rarely makes films outside the Magic Kingdom. He did make an exception when he moved the Ridley Scott-directed Black Hawk Down to Revolution Studios.
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